Panasonic BS1H box camera

The Panasonic DC-BS1H is the company’s second box camera, joining the Micro Four Thirds BGH1 in the lineup. As its name implies, the BS1H is essentially a box camera version of Panasonic’s flagship full-frame video camera, the S1H. Unlike the S1H, the camera has no built-in screen, EVF, or grip; instead, it’s designed to be modular so that users can add or omit these features based on their needs.

Panasonic says the target audience for the BS1H includes professionals doing remote production, live streaming, and even cinema shooters looking for an alternative to a camera like the RED Komodo. In particular, Panasonic tells us the growth of remote production during COVID has driven a lot of demand for a higher-quality BGH1-styled product.

Let’s take a look at the BS1H in more detail to see how it compares to Panasonic’s other video options.

Compared to S1H and BGH1

Although it has a different form factor, the BS1H is essentially an S1H under the hood. It uses the same 24MP full-frame sensor, supports the same video specs, and shares the same color science as its mirrorless sibling.

As mentioned earlier, it omits certain hardware like a screen, in-body image stabilization, a mechanical shutter and even a shutter button to capture stills. However, it gains features aimed at pro video users like SDI ports, Genlock, and Ethernet connectivity. If you do really want to capture stills with a camera designed for pro video work, Panasonic’s materials say this is possible using the LUMIX Tether for Multicam software, though we’ve had some difficulty doing so in time for launch – suffice it to say that most of this camera’s expected users won’t be too fussed.

The physical similarities to the BGH1 aren’t accidental. Panasonic expects many users to mix the two cameras in production environments. With the ‘Lumix Tether for Multicam’ app, one computer can control up to 12 cameras over Ethernet, including remote IP streaming.

Remarkably, despite housing a full-frame sensor, the BS1H is almost identical in size to the Micro Four Thirds BGH1, gaining just 0.8mm in depth. Like the BGH1, it includes a total of eleven 1/4″-20 mount points distributed around all sides of the camera to facilitate rigging.

Front controls and lens mount

The front layout of the camera has changed a bit from the BGH1 to accommodate the L-mount, but we think it’s for the better. All the programmable function buttons have been moved to one side of the camera while the lens release and power buttons reside on the other. There’s also one additional function button compared to the BGH1.

Additionally, there’s a new operation lock switch (visible at the 3 o’clock position above) that prevents accidental changes to camera settings. Panasonic tells us this was a common request from BGH1 users. It’s user-configurable, meaning you can determine what camera functions it disables.

Based on our experience with the BGH1, this button layout should provide a more natural workflow. It also makes it less likely that you’ll accidentally hit the power button when looking for a function button instead. Not that we’ve ever made that mistake…

Top controls

The camera’s top plate includes a hot shoe adapter, supporting external microphones using Panasonic’s DMW-XLR1 mic adapter or a wireless mic receiver. Next to it is the main control dial and menu button, which can be used to navigate the camera’s menus on an attached screen.

Navigating menus with the dial is a lot less elegant than using Panasonic’s excellent touch interface. Still, it gets the job done if your external display doesn’t support touch control in the menus.

Our only complaint about the top plate design, based on our experience with the BGH1, is that a microphone adapter mounted in the hot shoe partially covers the control dial, making it awkward to use.

Battery and connections

The rear of the camera is where much of the action is at. There are the usual 3.5mm mic and headphone jacks, a USB-C port, and a full-size HDMI port. The camera can output Raw data over HDMI that can be encoded as either ProRes Raw or Blackmagic Raw files using compatible off-camera recorders. The BS1H uses Panasonic’s professional camcorder batteries, which provide several hours of power on a single charge.

There’s also an Ethernet port, which is core to the camera’s functionality. The BS1H is designed to be used remotely, either over Ethernet or via remote IP streaming, using the Lumix Tether for Multicam app. The Ethernet port also supports PoE+ (Power over Ethernet), meaning you can use one cable to control, stream, and deliver power to the camera.

Finally, above the HDMI port are three SDI connectors, which we’ll look at on the next slide.

SDI connections

The back of the BS1H includes three SDI connectors, which are preferred by pros due to their durability and locking mechanism. They function as SDI video out, timecode in/out, and Genlock in. The video out port is 3G-SDI, meaning it doesn’t support Raw video or resolutions greater than 1080p: it’s primarily meant for monitoring. Genlock is very important for applications that require precisely synced cameras, such as broadcast or scientific use.

What’s missing here is a screen. Depending on how it’s rigged, you can access the camera’s menus through a monitor that supports Panasonic’s touch interface, like the Portkeys LH5P, a monitor in combination with the control dial to navigate menus, or through a smartphone app.

Unfortunately, external recorders like the Atomos Ninja and Blackmagic Video Assist don’t currently support Panasonic’s touch interface, so you’ll need to use the control wheel to navigate menus with them.

Media and streaming

In addition to external recording, the BS1H provides robust live streaming and internal recording options. Live streaming supports resolutions up to 4K/60p, using either the H.264 or H.265 codecs, at up to 50 Mbps over Ethernet.

The camera includes dual SD card slots, both of which are UHS-II compatible, for internal recording. Hot swapping is supported for continuous recording. Between the SD cards and the various video-out options, the BS1H provides a lot of flexibility to capture video in different formats. For example, an operator could output Raw video over HDMI, FullHD video over SDI, and record video to both internal cards using different settings simultaneously.

Bottom plate

Not surprisingly, there’s not a lot to see on the bottom of the camera. There are two 1/4″-20 mounts for a tripod plate and a hole for an anti-rotation pin.

Thermal management

Panasonic’s video-oriented cameras have typically included good thermal management, and the BS1H is no exception. It has an aluminum and magnesium alloy body designed to direct and dissipate heat, and an integrated cooling fan draws heat out of the camera.

The result? Unlimited recording time no matter what resolution or frame rate you’re shooting at: something that matters a lot to pro users.

Pricing and availability

The BS1H is basically an S1H in a body optimized for video production. We’ve been consistently impressed with the S1H, which is currently our top pick for video, and we expect the BS1H to perform similarly. Whether it’s the better choice will likely depend on how you plan to use the camera.

The BS1H will retail for $3499 and will be available from November 2021.

Author: Go to Source
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